Genetics of vulnerability to opioid addiction will be tackled in Ohio

Opioid epidemic in the USA took 68,000 lives in 2018. Scientists are looking into the genetics of people addicted to the substance, in an effort to detect most vulnerable patients and protect them from addiction.

Ohio State will recruit 1,500 patients, both with opioid use disorders and those without opioid addiction. This will be the most extensive study to date, concurrent with a biobank approach in New Jersey. Previous efforts ranged from a few dozens patients (LifeKit study) to 200 individuals (Michigan state).

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost explains the motivation of the study:

Education says ‘we’re going to give you information so you can make an informed choice.’ But sometimes people make bad choices even when they’re informed. Prevention is the side that says ‘how are we going to help prevent or stop new addictions?

The project is expected to last 18 months and cost $1.6 million. Its results, if conclusive, can fuel genetic screening supporting the choice of painkillers in clinical setting.

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